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More to life in ‘Tin Man’

Last night, I watched the first installment in SciFi’s Tin Man, a so far fairly entertaining though not all that gripping re-imagining of the classic tale Wizard of Oz. But it has its moments—and one of them reminds me of a greater truth.

In the first two hours, we meet D.G. (ala Dorothy Gale), a young roadside diner waitress with a penchant for oversleeping and gathering speeding tickets and bothered by reoccurring mysterious dreams and thoughts about places and people she doesn’t know. The slanted ceilings of her attic bedroom are covered with sketches and paintings of these visions and dreams she doesn’t understand. Her devoted parents try their best to comfort and encourage her, but she’s convinced her doldrums life isn’t all there is—that she’s meant for more than that.

And indeed, she is. One night a storm from the Outer Zone (ala O.Z.) brings henchmen of the O.Z.’s evil ruling sorceress Azkadellia to extinguish the ray of light D.G. is prophesied to bring to the broken and fallen land. D.G.’s parents help her escape by taking a short leap into the giant other-world tornado, which lands her and her folks in the Outer Zone, but separated. Ala the classic tale with some twists, she’s captured and escapes from munshkin resistance fighters along with Glitch (ala Scarecrow) whose brain’s been messed with by Azkadellia. Later, she frees a former Tin Man (a law man) whose been forced for years from within a metal suit to watch the abduction of his wife and son by Zero, one of Azkadellia’s henchmen. As the three travel towards Central City, they also free Raw (ala Lion), who’s had most of his psychic ability drained by Azkadellia.

As they follow the Old Road (ala, the Yellow Brick Road) to Central City, they come across a town that matches many of D.G.’s dreams and thoughts. As she struggles to take this in, her father and mother appear and explain to her the truth about who they really are and more about who she really is.

Turns out that D.G. was born in O.Z. and her folks are actually “nuturing units” programmed to love and protect her as if she was their own. Many years ago, D.G.’s mother brought her to this town in order to hide and protect her from Azkadellia (whom, we find out later, is actually D.G.’s sister who’s turned to the dark side). But she was always meant to return, to help heal and free the O.Z. from Azkadellia's rule. As her folks talk to her about their role and her heritage, they mention something that really struck me: part of their responsibility was to tell her true stories of the O.Z. in order to prepare her for her return to the O.Z.

This part of the story really resonated with me because we too are part of a larger Story—the one of God’s healing and freeing of this world. And we too have true stories to remind us of who we are, our heritage and our own roles in that Story.

There have been times in my life when I’ve really resonated with D.G.’s longing for something more than the appearances of life—that there must be something more to life than going through the motions or biding my time. Of course, I’m not alone. It’s a universal human longing (and a common theme often explored in fantasy stories, by the way).

But unlike D.G., we don’t need to go to O.Z. to find the land we were born in or the heritage we share. The Kingdom is here and now, intertwining and working through the appearances and realities of this world—and we have access to it right now. Like D.G., we need to only take a small leap to enter that land. I recently heard Dallas Willard explain it as if we are walking through a building with a guide who stops at the threshold of a room and says, “Turn around, the room is here.” We need to do nothing more than walk through the door.

Like D.G., we have many stories to tell us about this land we were designed and born to live within. Scripture and history are littered with them. They tell the Story of God’s relentless Love and desire to restore us and the world to the beauty and glory and peace and right-ness for which we and all the world was born.

What hit me in particular, however, is the effect on D.G. when she realizes her visions were real—as real or even more so than the world from which she came. Do we get that the Kingdom is a hard reality, a landscape and air of deep actuality? Is the Kingdom real for us? Or are we still like D.G. in her attic, staring at sketches and longing for more in life? I used to think that the land for which we were born comes after we die and the return of Jesus—and indeed, that is the perfection and fulfillment of the Kingdom. But our entrance into that land begins now—it’s available to us immediately. We are invited to into this land of wide open spaces of God’s grace, glory and love. We are invited to participate with him in reclaiming and restoring the world to the beauty, grace-filled and right-ness of its original intent and creation.

And this is why I love fantasy stories like Tin Man, even if they are incomplete, flawed and somewhat uneven. They often touch on themes like these that prompt and challenge us to think again about who we are and whose we are. And that brings God-talk into open spaces.

(Images: from SciFi Channel's website) miscctgy